The Paso Robles AVA

Established in 1983, the Paso Robles American Viticultural Area (AVA) is a diverse appellation located in the northern half of San Luis Obispo County.

The AVA’s western boundary is approximately six miles from the Pacific Ocean and it is one of the larger AVAs in California. In fact, it was just recently split into 11 sub-AVAs. The appellation lies on the inland side of the Santa Lucia coastal mountains and forms a rectangle roughly 35 miles wide by 25 miles long.

Akin to the climates of Alexander Valley in Sonoma County and the Rutherford district of Napa Valley, Paso Robles is known for fifty-degree diurnal shifts which bring long, cool nights and breezes from the Pacific, dropping temperatures to preserve a balanced acidity that keeps the palate eagerly coming back for more. This, combined with the area’s scant moisture and extreme growing conditions (such as well-drained, gravelly and sometimes chalky limestone soil) yields Bordeaux varietals worthy of international acclaim.

Because of Paso Robles’ ideal climate, location and growing conditions, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes can linger on the vine until their fullest potential for lush ripeness is achieved. The long growing season of this AVA allows this late-ripening variety ample time to develop not only the superb structure that makes it one of the most respected grapes in the world, but a rich, mouth-filling fleshiness that’s admired by winemakers whose growing seasons are shorter. Cabernet fruit from Paso Robles is intense and concentrated with fruit-forward aromas and flavors – similar to its northern counterparts, but with riper and softer tannins.

The Paso Robles AVA continues to produce an ever-growing field of critically acclaimed wines, and yet it is the potential of Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varieties that has savvy connoisseurs virtually quivering with excitement. The Paso Robles CAB Collective exists to help spread the word.